I recently caught up with wrestling star and podcasting pioneer Colt Cabana. In the second and final part of the interview below, Colt discussed his WWE announcing tryout in 2013, if he had ever considered signing with TNA, returning to ROH, his past heat with Jim Cornette and more.
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So then you had a WWE tryout again in 2013 for an announcing gig?
"So I had two different tryouts. In 2013, I had a dark match. Oh, no, maybe that was 2011. I had a dark match in 2011 against Wade Barrett and then, yeah, in 2013 or 14, I went down three different times. Well, in 2013, I went twice to Titan Towers on different occasions. And then, 2014, I think, I went three times to the Performance Center to do announcing. And yeah, I had a bunch of weird, different tryouts after that."
So is that, given the success of your podcast, and being very comfortable behind the mic, is that something you'd want to try more of, is a doing some wrestling announcing?
"I don't know if it's announcing or commentating, or even fun, like, YouTube stuff. But, obviously, right, with the podcast, I enjoy, I guess, almost commentating. Like, I don't mean commentating, like, a match, just commentating in general on wrestling and the culture and everything, so that stuff, I really do enjoy and I try to do that stuff as much as I can on my own, so it is something I do enjoy. Whether it's for WWE or whether it is just for it's own sake, it is, like, obviously, I realize, as a guy, I wrestle, as an independent wrestler you can wrestle three or four times, maybe, a week. To me, it's like, 'wow, there are three or four other days I'm open to do stuff' and I try to take advantage of that by doing other stuff outside of the ring. So and I really do like doing stuff outside the ring and usually it has to do with comedy."
Yeah, so what was that? So Wrestling Road Diaries 1 and 2, kind of behind-the-scenes look at traveling on the road in independent wrestling, 3 looks more at the comedy aspect. Did that change kind of the experiences filming backstage? Just filming the documentary, did that change the experience being that it was more based in comedy?
"I think for like editing purposes, it did. I think what's funny is that second one had Luke Gallows and Domino. And this one's about comedy wrestling. But Luke Gallows is literally the funniest human being in professional wrestling, so it's not like with Kikutaro and Grado they weren't going to out-funny Luke Gallows. He's the king. He's the king of comedy behind the scenes. For some reason, on TV he's just portrayed as a killer or a monster. But the way we did edit it though, I had a clear, Jack Edinger edited it and directed it, but I was also directing while we were filming. Just kind of funny for a documentary, I was, we were documenting, but I was also directing some aspects of it. And I wanted to really dissect the matches, like, talk about why stuff is funny and why stuff isn't funny, to see what works and why it doesn't work in the vein of comedy in wrestling, so in that aspected, I wanted to make sure we get into that when filming."
Yeah. And how long ago did you come up with the third, right after one and two?
"It was an idea I had for a while now. Like, I think the first one came out in 2011 and the second one came out it maybe 2013, 2014. So I like to space them out a little bit. Also, they took a long time to edit because Jack is a busy dude and I'm not giving him millions of dollars. We didn't have a Kickstarter or a GoFundMe. It was literally just me paying him, so you work with the time you're allowed. But I've got ideas already for doing one in Japan, doing one in Europe, doing the comedy tour that Marty DeRosa and I do, maybe doing an audio one, so I've had different ideas. But you kind of want to space them out."
And with that, how long had you known Grado and Kikutaro, who are in the documentary?
"I met Kikutaro in 2005 and in Ring Of Honor, he wrestled Samoa Joe and, like, really hurt him. I remember he got him bad, I think. You can go back and look at that. I think Kikutaro dressed up as Kiku Cactus Jack. That's the thing he would did in Japan for years. He would dress up like, he would always have a different mask, and it would like like Stan Hansen or Great Muta, it was really cool, Bruiser Brody, and Cactus Jack. And so, it has been about 10 years I've known Kikutaro. And Grado, I saw the VICE documentary on Grado. I don't know if you've ever seen that. It's called The British Wrestler. And it's amazing and fell in love with him. Sonjay Dutt told me about it and I think in the wrestling community he became a real cult hero. And I think I tweeted something out and he tweeted, 'I can't believe Colt Cabana knows who I am.' And then, we went and did shows together and we became friends. We became almost instantly friends, which I feel he does with a lot of people. He's just so lovable and nice and affable? That sounds about right. Yeah, so I think maybe 2013, 2014."
So when you thought about this documentary, were they always the two that popped in your head to do it with?
"Yeah, they really were. Those were the two guys I thought it would be the right call with. And after watching it, I think I made the right decision."
And Grado, obviously, is in TNA right now. Was that something you ever seriously considered, joining TNA?
"So they've asked a couple of times, a couple of years, and it wasn't the right thing for me to do. The situation they gave to me wasn't something I wanted to participate in, so it just wasn't the right time or the right place for it to happen. You know 2009, they gave me a tryout match. And they flew me to Florida and I wrestled TJ Perkins. The whole crowd was chanting my name and I was pretty over. And I did my stuff and it was really good. And when I got back, Vince Russo told Shawn Daivari. Daivari asked him what he thought and Vince Russo's quote was, 'what am I supposed to do with this guy?' And so, that lingered over me a little bit and it has to this day. And so when I went and they asked if I want to do some stuff with them, sometimes I think about that quote and I think about the idea that I thought it was a real fun match and did really well and that the hierarchs of the company at the time were a little too blind to see it."
Yeah, what are your thoughts on just kind of the current state of pro wrestling, having grown up in the 90s when it was kind of on a downturn? And then, the Attitude Era kind of kicked it back up. Do you see things kind of changing around, at least on the main scene.
"Oh, on the main scene. I was going to say, on my scene, which I care the most about, it's the most up it [has] been forever now. The independents are buzzing, man, especially in Europe. And so that's what I'm keeping my eye on are the independents and the scene I participate in. And houses are going up, some of the money is going up, people willing to pay money for bigger priced tickets is going up because they want to see all this talent, and independent wrestlers are becoming stars, which is nice, so it's really well from where I'm at. Up there, I don't know. It's hard to say. It's so funny because we all play, myself included, we all play armchair quarterback and we all say, 'it's doing this, it's doing that,' but it all seems to maintain, doesn't it? Look at Impact! It's still going.
"And for years, we've been like, 'well, we don't know how long [TNA will stay in business]' and it keeps going! So I think as much as we keep talking about WWE, unless we're Vince and his financial people, like, and his movers and shakers, it's really hard to say, so he's playing with a billion dollars and I'm sure he's not too worried about it."
And this past April, you returned to ROH after a nine year absence. How has that been? And how different is ROH now from the last time you were there?
Well, actually, it was a five-year [hiatus] because when I got fired from WWE, I came back for maybe a half a year or so. That's when Jim Cornette fired me from Ring Of Honor. And so, if we go through the idea of this whole podcast so far, 2009, I got fired from WWE, I got fired from Ring Of Honor, and TNA told me that I'm no good, 'what am I supposed to do with this guy?', and so a lot of me was like, 'man, I guess I don't have my place in wrestling'. And I thought about even quitting wrestling because it was just like no one, there was no platform where no one wanted to use me. And that's why I started the podcast in 2010 and I found my medium, I found my platform, because people were like, 'we like you, we want to support you, please keep doing this.' And so, at a time where I thought nobody wanted me, it turned out that I just had to cut out the middleman wrestling promotion and just go to the fans. It was nice for me. And so, for a little bit, I had hard feelings with Ring Of Honor, but Jim Cornette left and five years have gone by, and they asked me to come back.
"They were asking periodically, but finally, I was like, 'I don't need this weighing over my shoulders and this negativity,' so I just kind of pushed it all aside. I came back, I did a little program with Jay Lethal and it [has] just been fun. It [has] been fun. I like a lot of the locker room. It's nice to see the young, hungry talent. There was a time when it was just myself, and Samoa Joe, and Bryan Danielson, and Jack Evans, and Roderick Strong, and Austin Aries, and just all these young, hungry guys, so it's so cool to come back and see a new crop of these guys trying to make their name and their niche in the scene. And it's fun to be a part of it. I'm digging it."
What exactly happened with you and Cornette?
"So here's the thing. It's funny. Like, we definitely don't see eye to eye on wrestling, right? But I don't hate Jim Cornette and I kind of get where he was coming from. Essentially, he wanted MMA. He took over and his vision for the future of pro wrestling was a weird MMA thing where everyone was serious and everyone wanted to kick ass. And that was like Davey Richards, and Tyler Black, and he had his guys, The Briscoes, and Hero. He had his guys and I wasn't one of his guys, so, essentially, what was crazy was I'd been there since 2002 in the Murphy Rec Center when it started and so you'd think that that lineage, you'd want those guys around, the guys that had been there forever. But he didn't and it was him starting, kind of, over. And so, yeah, he got rid of me, which, I get it. I get it. You come in and you're like, 'these are the guys I want and these are the guys that I don't want,' so I get it. I don't agree with it and, of course, it made me upset at the time. And it still makes me upset now, just thinking the idea that… because nobody wants to get fired from their job. That's awful! But that's what happened. He wanted more of an ass-kicking MMA style of Ring Of Honor and, at the time, man, I was super over too. It was pretty crazy and the fans loved me, but it's not what he wanted, so he got rid of me."
With your schedule right now, with your podcast and I know you're working a lot in the UK, do you ever think about going to New Japan?
"Oh, we all think about going to New Japan! It's just not that easy. You know, I've been wrestling for NOAH for the last five years too. So, and they have a nice relationship too, so hopefully that kind of crossover will happen. New Japan is very exciting. It's very exciting that it [has] picked up a nice little thing in America, where a lot of people in America that are sick of the WWE product now have this great alternative and can watch these great Americans and North American wrestlers, like The Bucks, and Kenny Omega, and [Trent] Barreta, and all these guys. They're doing such great work and it's so cool, especially Kenny and I'm so proud of Kenny Omega. He's another guy who was in the WWE system. They were basically like, 'you're not what we…' they're like, 'we don't see a future with you' and he could have quit wrestling, but he didn't. He stuck with it. Now he's like the coolest thing in pro wrestling. And he has to do it over in Japan, but I think it's preferred for him. He's a great story and a lot of us are very [proud of him]."
Wrestling Road Diaries 3, how can fans get it?
"Wrestling Road Diaries 3: Funny Equals Money. ColtMerch.com. DigitalColt.com. On November 11th, it's available for digital and if you buy the hardcopy, while supplies last, you can get a free autographed cover card from myself, Kikutaro, and Grado. We'll sign the cover for you, so that's a nice collectors memorabilia. And yeah, it's really funny and really good. You're supporting independent wrestling, supporting independent moviemaking, and it's a cool thing. It's a really cool behind-the-scenes look. We look at comedy like it's never kind of been looked at before. And if you like wrestling, if you like weird documentaries like I do, and I'll recommend two documentaries for you guys to get you in the mood. On YouTube, maybe go to Louis Theroux, does a look at the wrestling culture of WCW in 1996, which is really interesting. And then, also, The Brookside Diaries from BBC, from 1993, I believe, where the BBC gave Robbie Brookside a camera and he filmed like 128 hours of just him on the road as a wrestler in 1993 England and it's super interesting. Those are both on YouTube, so I recommend you look at those for free and then, be like, 'oh man, I've got so much free content, I should say for something, I'll pay for Colt's movie.'"
Click here for part one of the interview, where Colt discussed his short WWE run, meeting Vince McMahon, Vince's idea of comedy, if he was able to make Vince laugh and more. You can purchase Wrestling Road Diaries 3 now at DigitalColt.com.